The heartbreaking stories coming out of the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian has got me thinking about what my family would do if we were in a similar situation. While New Yorkers typically don’t deal with hurricanes, we do face plenty of other emergency situations. Therefore, it is wise to have a family emergency plan in place.
I know it feels scary to think about, and it feels overwhelming, but taking a little bit of time today to prepare for an emergency tomorrow can make all the difference. And, for those working moms who already don’t have enough time, I am attaching links for as many pre-made tools as possible.
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts
First, be sure to sign up for emergency alerts on your cell phone. These alerts are lifesavers. You will receive notifications for any potential emergency, including tornadoes and winter weather. You can do a quick Google search for your town and the word “alerts” to find the one for your area and opt-in for alerts.
Write Out Emergency Contacts
If you are like me, you don’t have very many phone numbers memorized. With cell phones, memorizing numbers is a thing of the past! However, in case of emergency, it is helpful to have your emergency contacts written out – and it is especially helpful if you have children. I like FEMA’s Family Emergency Communication Plan form, which also has space for email and social media handles. All you need to do is write out all your important phone numbers and save it.
Have an Evacuation Plan
Next, give thought to where your family would meet and go if there was an emergency. Then, communicate this plan clearly with your family and anyone else it involves (such as evacuating to a different family member’s home). The American Red Cross has an excellent Family Disaster Plan template. Likewise, it is important to have a fire escape plan for your family. For an example and checklist, see the National Fire Protection Association’s Home Fire Escape Plan.
Store Important Documents Safely
It is also important to store your family’s important documents safely. You want to place documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and passports in a fire safe and waterproof storage container. Use The Spruce’s guide to The 8 Best Fireproof Safes of 2019 to help you shop.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Last but not least, it is wise to prepare a family emergency kit. This kit should include the essentials for your family in case of an emergency. Ideally, the items should be stored in a duffle bag or storage container that is easy to grab and go in the event of an emergency. If you want to pack your own emergency kit, see FEMA’s Emergency Supply Checklist. If you don’t have time to put one together yourself, you can purchase a pre-made emergency kit from the American Red Cross, which includes first aid supplies, emergency food, and other essentials.
Remember – a little planning today can make a huge difference tomorrow. Here’s hoping your family never has any need to use your family emergency plans.